It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed reading the new syllabus created by Joel Williams. It’s the same syllabus I’ll be working with this semester. He’s picked an interesting reading selection for students including a web project called “This I Believe” on NPR.org. Browsing the selections online I click on a couple of topics that interest me. I read about how one woman’s father taught her to never give up in any situation no matter how hard or painful. At a moment she gave up on herself, her father never did. She is now successful in her recent endeavors. In another essay, I read about a father and son’s relationship growing deeper the day the young man drives off across the country to go to college to start anew, and the third, definitely not the last, essay I read was about a woman who pursued a career in literature because it does matter the way the arts can help us see ourselves in new ways.
You see, I’ve been away from academics for almost three years yet still held out for that full time faculty position at an accredited college despite the ever-rising stack of rejection letters I have received and the mental notes of all the times my resume and desire to teach has been ignored.
I have understood the value of writing and have shared my passion to teach to others for many years. I even call myself the Grammar Guardian. You should see my costume. I’m sure my students thought my standards were rather high for grammar because I would find every error. To ease their minds I would tell them that I had written a love letter at the end of each of their papers upon returning them. Whether they understood what I meant, I’m not sure. I have missed their ah-ha moments and triumphs as they improved.
This Monday I’ll be back in the classroom. The phone interview, only a couple of days ago, was the first in about five years. I had almost given up. Somehow the conversation was much less stressful, and I felt much less needy. I explained the type of service I have provided students through my tutoring and teaching as an adjunct professor. I explained the profound love I have to help a struggling student receive a passing grade on a paper. I have tutored my own students on my assignments before the due date if needed. Generous? I suppose. A better term may be service. I was offered the job the following day. I’ll move to a new city in two days to serve more students.
Before this fateful event, I found a website called AuthenticHappiness.org. I took a free quiz to find my character strengths. I wasn’t at all pleased at first when I received the results. My top two strengths are Love and Mercy. Mulling these over I realized that my techniques were completely in line with my strengths. I showed love and mercy in and outside the classroom. I helped students achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my strengths enhanced someone else’s strengths. Give the site’s questionnaire a try. You might be surprised at the results. I surely was, but also thrilled to use these as often as I can now and in my future.
Are we not sometimes troubled by rejection and or disappointment? Our reactions can bring on the worst sort of depression and self-loathing. We wonder what is wrong with us, where we failed, how to next proceed. It isn’t uncommon to feel lost. Our perceptions seem almost deceived. We find ourselves in a foggy place, somewhat unrecognizable. We might even shed a tear.
Rejection and disappointment occur in many areas of life. It’s essential to know this because the healing techniques are the same across the circumstances.
First, acknowledge that as an autonomous individual it is the ego that experiences the pain. Each of us knows the desire to proceed in life and obtaining our goals comes from a deep place within. The ego is mighty. It deserves to have what it wants. It becomes a bit crushed when something doesn’t go as planned.
Second, recognize that the ego can adapt to the new reality. Don’t allow it to become fragile and lose your self-esteem. Remind yourself that what happens externally need not affect your self worth.
Third, accept life as it happens. Live in the now, not the past. The only reality is what happens at this very moment.
Reclaim your life’s dreams. Understand that the universe may have something better in store. The possibilities are as endless as you choose them to be. Reinvent yourself if you didn’t get the position you thought should have had. Make a list of your skills and add new skills to create a wider scope of your abilities. Any experience is an asset. Take a class. Take a tour of an area in your town. You’d be surprised at the gained knowledge a short detour from your regular day to day life can bring. Because you’ll be adding strength to yourself, you’ll see life and yourself differently. Having a new perspective will help you see your circumstances in a better light.
If your pain has come from relationships with others, understand that people will always disappoint because it’s our nature. Learn to accept others for their weaknesses and strengths. From this angle, see each person anew. Remember when your actions have disappointed others? What you did or didn’t do was not intentional if you’re authentic. You were merely being yourself. And if you feel you cannot be entirely yourself with others, these are not the people with whom you want to share your time anyway. Be free.
Go and add something today. Breathe in the moment and recognize it. Love, for it’s the best thing you can do at a time like this.
I typically won’t use first person narrative in my blog posts because the concepts I explain are universal. This post tells a story that helps me provide a basis for what I’m about to share.
One of the many salutations I could use to end my posts just wouldn’t capture the essence of what I felt when one of my favorite teachers had ended an email addressed to me with “Joy”. At first I was upset. Really? I complained. I had just sent a desperate note to him that I had a terrible case of writer’s block 40 pages into the dreaded 80 page thesis paper, due within days. The word jumped off the screen to me. Never has anyone used this salutation to end an email before. Never was I so disturbed. How did he expect me to muster up joy when writing the longest essay I had ever written?
Teachers are like this, Yes?
Assignments are difficult. Life is difficult. The thing is, the love he sent through email that day changed my life. Yes, love. Remember in the last post when I quoted John C Maxwell? Maxwell’s definition of friend resonates the type of challenge Dr. Daly posed to me. I grappled with it for a day or so before realizing something. I had forgotten to enjoy the assignment, the challenge, the journey, and my knowledge about the chosen subject. Once I felt “joy”, I was able to move through the last 41 pages like a breeze.
You see, the journey for writing that essay is a metaphor for life. Sometimes, about half way through, we panic. Sometimes we want to quit and turn in the gloves because we tire easily from the fight. We’d rather give up and go home. Friends around us can help make the struggle a bit easier. As a friend, you can ease another’s concerns. – We are all connected. Each of us needs another to stand along side through tough times. We are like blades of grass. Just one blade does not make a lush field. Stand with friends and give support. It doesn’t need to be much. It could be just a salutation. . .